As anyone who has tried it would testify, baking a traditional Christmas fruitcake is a lot of work. It is thus very important to know how to store them correctly so as not to end up with dried out cakes. My very first Christmas fruit cake was as dry as a stone after 3 months of aging. Well, I learnt from that experience and I am going to show you below how to properly age a fruitcake.
For a traditional fruit cake recipe, click here.
Yes, always label your fruit cakes with at least the date of production. This will help you know the age of your fruit cakes and monitor their aging process. This is especially useful when you have more than 1 fruit cake to age. It is also helpful to write a few details about the cake like type of aging alcohol, types of nuts or any special spice or ingredients you might have included in it.
Sealing your fruit cake properly is very important. Fruit cakes should only be exposed to air when they are being fed with alcohol, which should happen about once a week. At other times, they should be properly wrapped and stored in air tight containers. Sealing them properly will also prevent organisms from growing or thriving in and on your fruit cake.
To seal a fruit cake, I usually wrap it in 3 layers. The first layer consists of cling film.
The second layer consists of foil paper. Ensure that the cake does not come in contact with the foil paper or it would affect the taste of the cake.
The third and final layer consist of a plastic bag which would wrap the entire cake.
The wrapped cake is then placed in a cake tin with a tight fitted lid.
Trust me, this is not me overdoing it. These various stages of wrapping and sealing are important.
Feeding fruit cakes is very important. This is what ages them and keeps them moist. The fruits in the cake need alcohol to age properly. The duration for which you age them is up to you. I usually age mine for 3 months. I won’t suggest aging them for less than 2 months.
The alcohol you use to age your fruit cake is also up to you. You have a choice of white rum, spiced rum, brandy, whiskey, cognac or liqueurs like Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier happens to be my aging liquor of choice because its citrus flavor goes well with the citrus notes in the fruit cake.
Your cakes should be fed about once a week with alcohol. The easiest way to do this is with spray bottles. You also need to poke holes on top of the cake so that the liquor can get to the bottom of the cake. Failure to do this might lead to soggy cake tops and dry bottoms. Ensure that you use clean skewers to poke the holes as dirty skewers will introduce gems and bacteria to the fruit cake.
Fruit cakes should be stored in a cool dry place. DO NOT store them in the fridge as this will halt the aging process. Fruit cakes will get spoiled if exposed to too much heat. This is why the last quarter of the year is the best time to make them. I would recommend storing them in a cupboard, pantry or closet. I keep mine in my coat closet as this is the coolest place in my house with very little traffic and the door is always closed.
All the best with your own Christmas Fruit Cakes